Editorial April 2003 Issue

Little Hassles

WDJ editor concludes big dogs are easier.

When I need to remember how easy bigger dogs are to take care of, I call my dad and ask about my Border Collie, Rupert. They are living together for a while, and from what I hear, they really enjoy each other’s company. “Rupe’s fine!” my dad always says.

Oy. Mokie, a Chihuahua I inherited from my sister and brother-in-law, is not easy. He’s a good little dog, but I’ve been through a lot of strange experiences with him in a short period of time – things I’ve never had to deal with in a lifetime with bigger dogs.

There was the first time I gave him some raw frozen dog food, which comes in inch-square cubes. I had thawed the cubes a bit, but not all the way, because I thought he would enjoy chewing them. Instead, he greedily swallowed one whole. He hesitated for a second, then ran into his crate.

“What?” I thought, peering into his crate; he never walks away from food. It was fortunate that I looked. Mokie had fallen on his side, convulsing, choking. I grabbed him and thumped on his shoulders. Miraculously, the food flew out. Then he ran away from me and the food.

He had another close call with choking a month later, after he snatched away and swallowed a much too large piece of rawhide from my neighbors’ dog, who was staying here while they were out of town. I whisked him to the vet, who ascertained that it wasn’t stuck in his throat. Within an hour, he vomited most of the rawhide, along with something purple, which I later determined to be candy hearts he had found on the floor of my son’s room.

And then there was this: Mokie began spending a lot of time licking his butt and whimpering. I described this to his original owner, my veterinarian brother-in-law Bill, who was clear about what needed to be done. “His anal glands need to be expressed,” he said. “Little dogs often have a problem with that. It’s really easy, and I can tell you how to do it. Or you can take him to a vet and pay $50.”

Since I had just paid a vet, I figured I would try to help him myself. Neither my husband nor my son were any help. “No WAY am I squeezing his butt,” my son said. “I’d put the dog to sleep,” said my husband; he says things like that every day. He doesn’t mean it, but he’s not a dog person, either. I was on my own.

Amazingly, Mokie held still for the procedure, which, thanks to Bill’s instructions, I performed successfully. When my sister called to inquire how it went with her former dog, she couldn’t believe I had done it. “Of the hundreds of people that Bill has explained that to over the years,” she said, “I think you’re the first one who has actually done it.”

I’m not sure that I’m all that proud of this particular distinction!

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